Blog started in Jan 2005: 1st entries for Write in Every Genre. Then the REAL ME begins
|I have become ambivalent whether I will share this with the people involved, so I thought I might have some satisfaction if I posted it as a documentation of my experience.
Written May 20, 2021
It is my hope that this letter will be carefully considered. As the full board expresses their wishes for the future expansion of the agency in a new funding year, and those wishes become the directives followed by staff, try to invite and listen to that staff, and welcome manageable transformation.
As far back as September, I recognize that we have a misalignment in communication. I no longer recall the exact point the boss and I, alone, were discussing over the phone, but suddenly she is saying to me, “I can’t believe you said that!” To which I had to reply, “I don’t know what you heard me say?” I felt frightened, as we worked on personal understanding as well as a need for workflow expectations for a solid hour.
Something from that interaction carries over into my mid-October (and only) performance review. In the summary written by the agency's Executive Director it is noted in her words, that (employee) had misgivings about taking on the duty of Reassurance Calls. In my memory, I endured another frightening phone interaction and had the duty taken from me. The statement in my performance review only justifies her actions from her perspective, but is not the truth.
There are more slights, humiliations related to task disappearance, and points in time when I am disregarded. A particular one, I accept now as a naïve mistake by someone with power over me – The full discourse of which is within an email conversation the program manager, office administrator, and I shared in March within my new supervisor’s first week. I suffered that weekend in the unknowing headspace of what they each considered “a simple request,” sent via a Friday email. I do not have access to that email conversation now, and I effectively feel I made the proper teaching moment. But it is important for you to be aware of and train current and future employees to know appropriate requests and inappropriate requests about federally protected civil rights and having a “medical condition” documented for one’s employment file.
The point at which I am thoroughly floored is being handed a written reprimand on Friday April 23rd after my direct supervisor, for the last five weeks, has cleared the room of other staff. I react to two things immediately, that it first references February 17 as a formal reprimand, and that in describing the interaction on April 20th, there are statements in quotes, which are stated to be my words with the supporting claim that two other people heard the same. It says nothing about the manner in which she continued to berate me on April 20th. I made no disrespectful comments, and she was the one who continued to loudly hammer me about how I must comply immediately and do it without further question.
So, as I am signing the document on the 23rd -- At this point, I get it, she can say anything, and I am powerless. There are no witnesses, and I am not given a copy that day. I am told to leave for the day, and when I object, simply because I’d rather get back to working, the program manager tells me that the Executive Director said I might be upset and authorized correcting the clock out so I’m completing the full day.
On the day the Executive Director provides me the termination documents just two and a half weeks later, I communicate calmly and questioningly -- I’m not recalling at all what incident “last week” she is referring to as she starts out.
When the Executive Director hands me the termination document, I don’t respond outwardly to the use of the word “altercation” twice used to describe May 6 and May 7 – but, absolutely, an incorrect term.
Demoralized, devalued, completely exhausted by the battle to be genuinely heard – these are my takeaways from these under-a-microscope interactions that became increasingly intense once I was invited back into the main office.
I’m an intelligent person, and it seems to me that no one is acknowledging my psyche under the degrading effects of micro-managing. As an example, being unable to respond with a question or clarifying statement to one’s supervisor without having her cc every perceived insubordinate comment to the Executive Director.
From my perspective, I worked hard for this agency, the people it serves, and the community members we invite to also be a part of making positive changes. I also know I was making personal improvements in relating as requested, and my months of obedient and fruitful actions end up meaning so little.
The main courtesy I was seeking in this employment was acknowledgment, with compassion, of the free expression and questioning that is my temperament, and shockingly missing, perhaps some reflective questioning about my well-being, if anyone is reporting that I am out of line. Instead, the final weeks were confidence-crushing.
I was brought to tears on May 7th, only my direct supervisor and the administrator, acting as a witness, were subjected to that. Did our Executive Director get that in written employee statements? Faced with my tears, the two of them say, I’m a good employee, and that they don’t want me to give up; so, I do not. What a hollow gesture to make me feel better. I shouldn’t be hard on them, it did ultimately fall to the boss’ choice.
I feel this is my piece. It all needs to be said. I pray the team truly becomes a team. There’s much to overcome, and I wish the agency good fortune, really.